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Pain is Worse in Darkness

Updated on November 15, 2021
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.


Pain is a relative thing, but as I lay in bed last night, experiencing pain, I realized that pain is worse in darkness. Think of all the times you have been in pain. During the daytime, there is usually someone around that one can talk to, to take one's mind off the pain. Somehow having company, or someone who is awake on the other end of a phone line, can ease all types of pain, be it emotional or physical.

A Parent's Pain

Have you ever been on bed rest when pregnant? That's a scary time because as a mother, you are very concerned about the welfare of your unborn baby. Waking up at night with the feeling of early contractions can be a very scary thing. And of course, in the middle of the night, there is no one awake to talk to in order to calm your fears. It's just you and the baby and the darkness, as the waves of contractions come and go. Of course, you may have people in your life who have told you to call whenever you needed just to talk, but how many of you really want to call your friend at 3:00 a.m., a mother herself with her own responsibilities, and wake her up just to make yourself feel better?

Remember back to when you were up at night with a teething or colicky child. Or rocking in a rocking chair at your infant's bedside with him in your arms as he cried from feeling sick with a fever. In the middle of the night, when there is no one for a mother to talk to, the emotional pain of a child who is suffering is the worst. As you pace back and forth trying to rock your baby, you wish only for solace, not only for your child but to soothe your own emotional pain. And yet there is no one there to talk to. If you have a spouse, they are probably in your bed, trying to sleep to be able to have the energy to get up and go to work the next day. Somehow, the light of day makes things seem more manageable. There will be more people to offer support, including doctor's offices open that can see your child or medical personnel on the other end of the phone line. Somehow the light of day brings welcome relief.

A Patient's Pain

If you are a patient in the hospital, there is always a nurse on call to check on you at night, but not many have the time to sit by your bedside and tell you it will all be okay. And when a patient goes home after surgery or hospitalization and has to face the recovery without the nearby medical team, night time can be a very scary time. Even with a spouse nearby, most people who are recovering are reluctant to wake a sleeping caregiver just to assuage their fears or their pain. Night time is a scary time for recovery. To awake in the middle of the night in pain, or in fear that blood clots may develop, or infection is starting is very concerning. And the prospect of falling back to sleep after waking up in pain is sometimes fruitless. It could be minutes or hours before sleep comes again, even to the weariest of bodies, and the darkness only exaggerates the fact that the recovering person is not able to rest. Feelings of discouragement from slow healing and fears of relapse can attack a healing patients mind and prevent one from getting needed rest. When the daylight comes, a patient can get a sense of relief that although they have had a tough night, they have made it through to another day of healing. And to the welcome encouragement of loved ones around them who are awake and alert and available to chase the fears of the darkness away.

Emotional Pain

A relationship break-up is a tough thing for most people to go through. Whether it's the loss of a boyfriend or spouse, breaking up is always hard to go through. And of course at night, in the darkness, it's the hardest. Think back to a time when you experienced a break up that you didn't initiate. Do you remember waking up in the middle of the night in tears because your lover was gone...maybe from the very bed the two of you had previously slept in together? The darkness makes it worse. There's no one else awake you can call to make you feel better. Of course, you actually could call someone, but to wake them up in the middle of the night would probably only make you feel worse. And the sobbing may just continue into the wee hours of the morning. Even then, the light of day makes things seems a bit better. At least there is a routine for you to follow usually. A reason you need to get up whether it be to go to work or tot take care of children. Yes, the pain is worse in darkness.


There are a few ways to alleviate the pain one feels at night in the darkness. I would like to suggest...


Just by simply turning to God with your troubles and unburdening your pain to Him is often enough to help alleviate the pain to those who believe. God is the one being that you never have to worry about awakening. He is always awake and watching over us. I have often used visual thinking to unburden my pain. I imagine God's giant hands coming out of the sky toward me. I climb into His outstretched hands and curl up, feeling safe and secure. I take some deep breaths and imagine all my pain and worry being absorbed by the Master's hands, and that quite often puts me in a much more peaceful state of mind. If your concern is for your child, pray for him/her and know that someone else is in control and all you can do is your best for them.

Turn on the Light or TV

Another option if you realize being alone in the dark and worrying or being consumed by pain is hurting your chance of quick recovery, simply turn on the light! It seems like sleep will not come easily anyway so by turning on the light, you give your mind other options of things to think about other than pain. Turning the television on will help put your focus somewhere else, and by keeping the sound low, you may let others continue to sleep or fall asleep eventually yourself to the droning of the voices. Young children can fall asleep in a Mom or Dad's arms just as easily when the TV is on, and it keeps your mind off worrying about them.

Have a Buddy System

Do you have one friend you can count on no matter what? Make arrangements with him/her to agree that you may call at any hour of the day, and offer to do the same for that matter what the circumstance. Knowing that another person is there for you if you need them sometimes is enough to help you feel better.

Write in a Journal

Whether on paper or electronic, a journal can do wonders to get our emotions, thoughts, and concerns out. Sometimes just getting them out of our minds and onto paper helps people feel better. If you need to share these feelings with a friend, email them to someone else who will receive the message in the morning. The friend who received the message can feel as though they were there for you in the middle of the night, and you can feel better just by writing your worries and concerns to your friend, even if they are not receiving them at that moment.

Cuddle With a Pet

If you have a pet who is sensitive to your needs, he/she would be happy to hop right up on your bed and cuddle with you. The soothing sound of a cat purring next to you, or a dog with his head in your lap on the bed will lower your blood pressure and help you feel as though you are not so alone or in as much pain.

I wish for each of you reading this that you never have to experience pain, either emotional or physical. But we are all human, and pain does seep into our lives, so if you do, I hope these suggestions help lessen your pain in the darkness.

This book has helped me through numerous break-ups and I have often given it to friends who are going through romantic break-ups

Pain Poll

When you are in emotional or physical pain, what time of day does it seem worse?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Karen Hellier


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